A strong culture of project advocacy contributes significantly to repeatable success. But sometimes even savvy Project Teams discover their advocacy efforts are falling short. See if any of these 6 warning signs sound familiar. They may signal it’s time for your project management team to double down on developing better project advocacy habits.
1 – Stakeholders express surprise as the project’s approved objectives. It’s common for a project’s objectives to evolve as planning gets underway, and some may be trimmed or eliminated once budget and other operational discussions begin. However, if team members are actively engaged in their role as advocates, stakeholders won’t be surprised by these events. User input and concerns should be solicited throughout the process, with strong two-way communication channels keeping everyone in the loop on what’s expected, what’s possible, and why particular requests have been pulled from consideration.
2 – End users aren’t interested in attending project meetings or presentations. These groups should be eager to know what’s happening, so if they’re dismissive of invitations your team should take notice. They may feel they’re too disconnected from the process or that the project’s objectives don’t match what they were hoping for. End user participation should normally be robust, and it’s something your Project Team can encourage at all stages in the project. If this stakeholder group disengages at any point, it may indicate a failure in your team’s advocacy efforts.
3 – Few in the Project Team interact with end users. Communication channels are often necessarily constricted—to maintain consistency of information, to streamline operations, to ensure necessary approvals are given before news is released, etc.—but day-to-day interactions should still be the norm, not the exception. Good advocates get out from behind their desks and make a point to reach out to end users and other stakeholders regularly. Even if your Project Team has identified one or two point people to act as primary project advocates, everyone on the team should work to engage stakeholders and ensure the project is successful.
4 – Stakeholders are unwilling to accommodate work disruptions. Anytime operations are disturbed or impacted it’s an inconvenience for users. But if your Project Team has been doing a good job of cultivating an environment of advocacy, stakeholders should not only be in the know about planned disruptions but should also be supportive of accommodating them. The reason? When the culture nurtures project advocacy, stakeholders are full partners, and are eager to see the project’s benefits come to fruition.
5 – The leadership team micromanages the Project Team’s inner workings. Worries may crop up when executives aren’t well informed about the project team’s operations, or if they see different protocols applied to different projects. No matter where concerns originate, it’s crucial the Project Team boosts its advocacy role and views the leadership team as another stakeholder group (though one with slightly different needs and expectations). Better communication will provide a starting point, followed by interactive discussions about the concerns, education on how operations are carried out, and ongoing engagement to ensure that any worries have been addressed.
6 – Budget or contract processes are slow-moving or filled with glitches. While this may point to other concerns—lack of project support from the executive team, for example—there’s also a strong possibility that poor advocacy efforts are playing a role. Project advocates should be proactively working with internal partners to ensure all necessary hand offs of go smoothly, that questions are answered early in the process, and that any requests for additional information are addressed as quickly as possible. This keeps administrative issues moving forward and prevents them from interfering with the project’s progress.